How to Read Labels: The Top 6 Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products
Do read the labels on food when you're in the grocery store? It’s a good idea to screen the ingredients on the labels of your beauty products too!
Lately, a lot of us have been waking up to product ingredients. There’s a much greater desire among consumers to know what, exactly, we’re putting in our bodies. If you’re anything like us at Thair, reading the ingredients and nutritional labels on food has become second-nature at the grocery store. We want to make sure that the food we eat doesn't contain potential toxins or other ingredients that are terrible for you.
Checking the labels of food is a fantastic habit to get into, but have you thought about doing the same thing with your beauty products? Much like with food, there are a ton of ingredients going into beauty supplies that you might not suspect—and seeing as we apply all these products directly to our skin and hair where its readily absorbed, an awareness of dangerous ingredients is a necessity!
Here are the top 6 ingredients that you should be avoiding in your beauty products:
Parabens are one of the most common ingredients in beauty supplies. You're going to see it listed on most soaps and lotions as well.
Parabens are preservatives designed to keep your beauty supplies fresher longer. Ok, what’s so bad about that? The big problem here is that parabens are known as endocrine disruptors. What does that mean? They mimic estrogen. Using them can cause your body to develop hormonal imbalances and a variety of cancers!
In other words, if you see parabens listed on any beauty products when you're shopping, put them back on the shelf. This can be tricky—they’re in darn near everything—but it's a smart move. Trust us.
Formaldehyde is probably one of the best-known preservatives out there, primarily because of its association with preserving dead tissue. Ew. If you ever spent any time in a high school biology class, you’ll probably recognize the smell of formaldehyde.
But here's the scary part: formaldehyde is also often used in your cosmetics and beauty products. No thanks!
Formaldehyde has been linked to the development of asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Sure, it’s great at preserving dead tissue, but since we’re alive and want to stay alive and healthy as long as possible, it’s not something that you want in your beauty products.
Have you ever found an old plastic bottle or toy that has become brittle with age? This can be a common problem that companies combat using a substance called phthalates. Phthalates help keep plastic supple and prevent it from breaking down.
Ok… but why put it in cosmetics???
If your products list "fragrance" as one of the ingredients, chances are they’re talking about phthalates. (More about fragrances in a second...)
Phthalates can have similar effects on the body as parabens, causing significant disruptions in your body, including hormonal imbalances, reproductive issues, and congenital disabilities. Whenever possible, steer clear.
4. Artificial Fragrances
Remember the scent of lemon cleaner that your parents probably used when you were a kid? Guess what: it wasn't real lemons! 😉 It was, in fact, an artificial fragrance, and it’s not just used in cleaners. Synthetic fragrances are commonly used in cosmetics and beauty products today.
What exactly are fragrances made from? Nothing good, we can tell you that.
Artificial fragrances are usually a mix of allergens, irritants, endocrine disruptors, and even carcinogens. If you see "fragrance" or "perfume" on the ingredient list, you don't want it on your skin or in your home.
Believe it or not, you can't even trust "unscented" products to be free of artificial scents and perfumes. Often, they use perfume to "hide" the natural chemical odour of the product, making it actually smell "unscented" with additives to neutralize the smell.
The tricky thing is that manufacturers aren't required to reveal what goes into their perfumes and artificial fragrances so watch out!
This is kind of a tricky one. While you aren't going to see this on any ingredient labels here in Canada (due to it being banned, thank goodness), you might come across 1,4-Dioxane if you’re travelling in the United States. The fact that it's banned in Canada is probably a pretty big hint that it should be avoided at all costs!
1,4-Dioxane is a trace contaminant that's a byproduct of manufacturing processes. This means that it's not an ingredient "per say," but it's in beauty products nevertheless. You can often find it in shampoos, deodorants, skin care products, and (terrifyingly) baby soap! It can cause liver issues, kidney damage, reproductive problems, eye and nose irritation, and even cancer.
6. SLS/SLES (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
We’ve all been conditioned to love beauty products that easily foam or create a frothy lather. Here’s the problem: it’s chemicals that are usually causing that effect.
SLS/SLES are usually found in products that foam, like shampoos, toothpaste, skincare, and topical cosmetics. They can cause a great deal of skin irritation and, if you have a sensitivity, trigger major allergies.
You don’t actually *need* that foam. Try to separate your thinking from what you’re used to, and you’ll discover some incredible natural products that will take better care of your hair and skin without the chemical lather.
So what IS safe?
We're not trying to scare you, but these 6 ingredients are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many terrible ingredients that go into commercial beauty supplies, most of which you need a master's degree in chemistry to pronounce. That's why you must buy your cosmetics from sources you can trust.
We recommend using the database on ewg.org; it’s an amazing tool to look up chemicals in beauty products. We use it regularly and love that it rates the toxicity and also explains what the chemical is and does. There’s also an ‘think dirty’ list which is super cool, it has a data base of products that are rated. If the database doesn’t include a product that you want to know about, you can take a photo of the bar code and voila, it will now be in their system!!
At Thair Hair Boutique & Spa, we're extremely cautious when selecting the skin and hair supplies we use and sell. We have a rigorous screening process before we try anything. We do our best to avoid harmful chemicals in the products we use and retail. But don't take our word for it; check the ingredient labels yourself!
If you'd like to learn more, please drop by our location or book an appointment with us today!